Saturday, 20 October 2018

Socio-political education

Very interesting chat with Alessandro Fadda, Rector of the Gerini community next to the B. Z. NamuncurĂ¡ theology community. Alessandro is one of the few salesians who takes an enormous interest in civic and political affairs, and in socio-political education as part of youth ministry. With Renato Cursi, he edited a book along these lines. When asked whether there were other Italian Salesians with the same kind of interest, he named Giovanni D'Andrea and Angelo Santorsola.

It appears that some religious congregations and movements actively discuss local politics, to the extent of encouraging members or associates to take an active part and to even stand for elections - the Oblates of Mary, the Opus Dei, and so on.

The chief political parties in Italy - the PD, Forza Italia and 5 Stelle included – Alessandro said, all used to have a solid core of committed Catholics, but these were gradually eased or edged out. Perhaps they were getting to be too uncomfortable.

There were also other interests running transversally through the parties. That I found extremely intelligent and interesting, if not exactly new. In the old Bangalore of our theology days, the Gowda family had a prominent politician in each of the major political parties, so that whoever won, they had leverage. In the end, the political inclination does not seem to matter. What matters is access to power and to policy.

Lonergan's remark comes to mind: that the budgets of some multinationals are bigger by far than the budgets of several countries. Which means that international finance and industry can create "runs" at will in countries... simply by investing or divesting at will. It appears that there is no, or not sufficient, international law to govern such operations.

The Aspen Institute is present in several countries of the world, including Italy and India. The thinker and journalist Savona - who writes scathingly against the ruling duo in Italy, in La Repubblica - comes up on the web pages, but so does Romano Prodi. The aim is to prepare leadership with an international colouring. There seems to be also an Istituto Prometeo in Italy with somewhat similar aims, and perhaps also an Istituto Gaia.

GC26, in its chapter on poverty, spoke of our duty to educate young people - even if they happen to be middle class and upper middle class - to active citizenship and socio-political responsibility. Fr Pascual Chavez used to mention this often. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the high vocation to politics as a form of charity.